Half of Americans Still Don't Want Their Relatives Marrying Atheists


America is an increasingly politically polarized nation. (No shit.) But by and large, when it comes to family members’ marriages, we’re able to set aside party differences and get wild at the open bar. Except, that is, when it comes to atheists.

Maybe folks are just really worried they’ll get Richard Dawkins books every Christmas?

This week Pew released a whole batch of numbers about political polarization and the practical effects it has on Americans’ personal lives. For instance: Conservatives do tend toward spread-out communities with larger houses and a shared religious faith, while liberals prefer everything walkable and diverse.

The Washington Post plucked out an interesting detail—even ideologues are surprisingly flexible about the politics of those marrying into the family:

More than three quarters say the politics of their future in-laws don’t matter. One in seven would be happy with a partisan, so long as they’re the “right” party. The poll finds pockets of discontent – 30 percent of Americans who have consistently conservative political views would frown upon a Democrat marrying into the family, as would 23 percent of solid liberals if a Republican married in. But even in these deeply political groups, the vast majority say they wouldn’t care.

People love to bitch about awkward political moments at the family reunion, but when push comes to shove, most us will take the years-long argument about taxes with Uncle Tony over seeing a cousin marry some “right-thinking” dude who’s a complete fuckwad in every other department.

Americans are less welcoming of atheists, though: 49 percent said they’d be upset about relatives marrying “someone who doesn’t believe in God.”

That’s driven to some extent by right-leaning respondents (the rate jumps to 73 percent among consistent conservatives, and 58 percent among those who are “mostly” conservative) but it’s not negligible among liberals, either (falling to 24 percent among consistent liberals and 41 percent among those who are “mostly” liberal).

That outstrips many, many other differences:

Discomfort with atheists joining the family far outpaces levels for gun owners (19 percent), someone without a college degree (14 percent), a different race (11 percent), or someone born and raised outside the United States (7 percent).

It’s worth noting, though, that a lot of Americans just don’t know many people who openly admit to being disbelievers. According to these Pew numbers, just 1.6 percent of Americans identify as “atheist.” A mere 2.4 percent cop to being agnostic, while another 6.3 percent are nonreligious and unaffiliated. But with those numbers are rising, that 49 percent is maybe just going to have to learn to deal. Hopefully, they’ll figure out pretty quickly they’d rather debate metaphysics with someone who treats their sister right than agree 100 percent with someone who doesn’t.

(h/t Slate)

Photo via ommaphat chotirat/Shutterstock.

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